Journal scan

Omega-6 fats may help prevent type 2 diabetes

A diet rich in omega-6 fats, contained in foods such as soybeans, sunflower seeds and tofu, can significantly reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, scientists say.

A diet rich in omega-6 fats, contained in foods such as soybeans, sunflower seeds and tofu, can significantly reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, scientists say

omega
Soy beans and tofu. Picture: iStock

A diet rich in omega-6 fats, contained in bean and seed oils, can significantly reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, scientists say.

Researchers discovered 'striking evidence' of the link, which showed a 35% level of protection in people with the most omega-6 in their blood.

This is despite recent concerns that the fatty acid may trigger inflammation, leading to an increased risk of chronic diseases.

Lead author Jason Wu, from the George Institute for Global Health in Sydney, Australia, said the study showed little evidence of harm from the fats.

'A simple change in diet might protect people from developing type 2 diabetes,' he said.

Strong association

Researchers analysed data from 20 studies that recruited 39,740 adults in 10 countries. Among the participants, a total of 4,347 were newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Blood tests showed one key omega-6 fat – linoleic acid – was strongly associated with a lower risk of diabetes.

Compared with people who had the lowest levels of linoleic acid in their blood, those with the highest levels were 35% less likely to develop the disease.

Linoleic acid is not formed naturally in the body and can only be obtained from the diet. Foods and oils containing high levels of linoleic acid include soybeans, sunflower seeds and tofu.


Wu J et al (2017) Omega-6 fatty acid biomarkers and incident type 2 diabetes: pooled analysis of individual-level data for 39 740 adults from 20 prospective cohort studies. Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology. doi: org/10.1016/S2213-8587(17)30307-8

 

This article is for subscribers only

Jobs